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England’s opening game in the 2014 World Cup against Italy is a reminder of earlier English Italian clashes at club level. This includes some long forgotten Anglo-Italian tournaments. West Ham participated in a couple of these competitions and this feature includes a review of how the Hammers fared in their Italian jobs.
As the Premiership and the European Champions League expanded, several smaller European tournaments have been consigned to history including the Anglo-Italian competitions.
In the 1970s to 1990s the English FA linked up with the Italian League to form various Anglo-Italian competitions. West Ham participated in a couple of these now defunct cups. West Ham’s two Italian ventures were in :-
1975-76's Anglo-Italian Cup Winners Cup
1992-93’s Anglo-Italian Cup.
The only trace today of West Ham’s participation in these competitions can be found in the “other competition” sections of various Hammers’ history publications and handbooks. These brief mentions may capture the result but no more. This feature continues with a summary of the Anglo-Italian cups origins before lifting the lid on West Ham’s two Italian affairs.
Anglo-Italian League Cup
The competition lapsed for three years before it was revived with a change in name to the Anglo-Italian Cup Winners' Cup and also in its rules. The cup was now played for between the winners of the English FA Cup and the Italian League Cup but only lasted another two seasons before being finally scrapped in 1976.
For West Ham this early season forage into European football was a dress rehearsal for their forthcoming European Cup Winners Cup campaign but it proved disappointing. The Hammers lost both legs to single goals each scored coincidently in the 19th minute of play.
The Florence club may have come off best in the Anglo-Italian Cup Winners Cup but it was the Hammers who fared best in the European Cup Winners Cup. West Ham went on to reach the Brussels’ final. While Fiorentina was knocked out in the round prior to the quarter-finals.
1975 Anglo-Italian Cup Winners Cup
In the six games the Hammers scored eight and conceded four. Leading scoring honours were shared by Julian Dicks and Clive Allen with three each.
Twenty one players were called on for the six game campaign. Six players were ever present: Steve Potts, Julian Dicks, Alvin Martin, Martin Allen, Clive Allen and Kevin Keen. Ludo Miklosko and Mark Robson played in all bar one.
Goalkeeper Stephen Banks made his one and only competitive West Ham first team game in the opening qualifier against Bristol Rovers.
Record European low attendance with only 800 recorded for the away tie against Cosenza.
A.C. Fiorentina 1-0 West Ham United (HT 1-0)
The Stadio Communale, Florence
Wednesday September 3, 1975
A.C. Fiorentina: Guerini (19 mins)
Billy Bonds and Claudio Merlo exchange club pennants before the first leg in Florence
From West Ham’s perspective the most notable aspect of the Florence match, was the return of skipper Billy Bonds for his initial first team game of the season after a long lay off with a groin injury.
The only goal of the game came from Guerini who hit a low but not particularly hard shot from 20 yards. Mervyn Day went to his right to make what seemed the simplest of saves then unaccountably let the ball go through his hands. The ball trickled over the line, with Day’s desperate dive backwards too late to prevent the inevitable. Though to be fair to Day he did subsequently make a superb save again from a Guerini 20 yarder.
West Ham’s best chance came from a Brooking cross which Keith Robson tamely headed into the keeper’s hands.
No programme was issued for the game in Italy
A.C. Fiorentina line-up:
Superchi, (Mattolini) Beatrice, Roggi, Pellegrini, Della Martira, Guerini, Caso, Merlo, Casarsa (Bresciani), Antognoni, Speggiorin.
A.C. Fiorentina line-up:
Mattolini, Galdiolo, Tendi, Pellegrini, Della Martira, Beatrice, Desolati, Merlo, Casarsa, Antognoni, Speggiorin (Bresciani).
West Ham United 0-1 A.C. Fiorentina (HT 0-1)
Wednesday December 10, 1975
A.C. Fiorentina: Speggiorin (19 mins)
The Upton Park 2nd leg was watched by two national team managers, England’s Don Revie and Italy’s Fulvia Bernadini. It was Bernadini who went home the happiest. The game was originally scheduled to take place on November 26, but due to a replayed 4th Round Football League Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur at the Boleyn Ground the match against the Italians was played on December 10th..
A Fiorentina side containing one full and seven under 23 Italian internationals comfortably beat West Ham. A second disappointing result for the Hammers’ as their league form was excellent in their challenge for top spot in Division One.
The Italians on the other hand had only gained six league points from their opening eight Italian league matches.
The 19th minute goal came when Gaildiolo pumped in a deep cross from the right which Tommy Taylor ought to have intercepted with his head but the ball fell on the left of the area, Speggiorin controlled it superbly to score.
West Ham’s best chance was possibly Frank Lampard’s 34th minute free kick which bought a fine save from keeper Mattolini.
A season later and Napoli clinched 1976’s Anglo-Italian Cup Winners Cup with a 4-1 aggregate win over Southampton. This turned out to be the last season for the competition before it was scrapped.
1976 – Last Season for Anglo-Italian Cup Winners Cup
West Ham participated in the first season of the competition’s new and wider format which included 24 English teams participating in preliminary rounds before proceeding to the International Stage of the competition where there were two groups, each with four English and four Italian clubs. Each team played the four teams from the other country.
The best two English team at the International Stage would meet in an all English semi-final. The final would be contested at Wembley against the winners of the Italian semi-final.
West Ham’s 1992-93 Preliminary Matches
The Hammers successfully negotiated the preliminary rounds against Southend United and Bristol Rovers to qualify for the International group stage and four matches against Italian Serie B league opposition.
West Ham United 2-2 Bristol Rovers
Southend United 0-3 West Ham United
In the four Italian games West Ham recorded two wins, a draw and a single defeat. Unfortunately, this was not quite enough to qualify for the semi-final against the top English side, Derby County, from the other group. One of West Ham’s group opponents, Cremonese, beat Derby County 3-1 in the Wembley final.
The tables below capture the scores, scorers and opponents in West Ham’s six matches in the 1992-93 campaign.
Hammers: Johnny Ayris and Alan Taylor
Preliminary Round : English Qualifying
West Ham precede to the International Stage on the toss of a coin
The 1992-93 season had a happy ending for the Hammers as they finished second in Division 1 (the 2nd tier behind the newly formed Premiership) to clinch promotion to the top tier of English football.
Premier League status rendered them ineligible for future seasons’ Anglo-Italian Cups. Though reviewing the low attendances and the free flowing red and yellow cards, the club and fans probably did not miss the Anglo-Italian flirtation.
Newspaper coverage courtesy of Richard Miller
Five months Later Promotion to Premiership
Appendix A : Competition format and Winners
Appendix B : Competition format and Winners
Anglo-Italian League Cup
The Anglo-Italian League Cup competition was played intermittently between 1969 and 1976 between clubs from England and Italy. The embryos’ of the competition were sown a couple of years earlier in 1967 when Queens' Park Rangers as England's Football League Cup winners were denied a place in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. The R's could not take up their place because UEFA did not at that time allow third-tier teams to compete in the Fairs Cup.
When the same situation arose two years later with Swindon Town's 3-1 victory over Arsenal in the same Cup competition, a two-legged match against that year's Coppa Italia winners, A.S. Roma, was organised by way of compensation.
The following year Coppa Italia winner's Bologna defeated League Cup winners Manchester City with a 3–2 win on aggregate. The 1971 competition saw League Cup winners Tottenham Hotspur defeated Coppa Italia winners Torino 3–0 on aggregate.
The first Anglo-Italian Cup was inaugurated in 1970. For the first competition there were six English teams and six Italian teams. These teams were split into three groups consisting of two English and two Italian teams each.
The final was contested between the best team from each country, Swindon Town played Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo on 28 May 1970. Swindon were 3–0 up after 63 minutes, when violence started to break out. The match had to be abandoned after 79 minutes, with Swindon being declared as the first winners of the tournament.
The competition would continue in this format until 1973 when the tournament folded due to a lack of interest.
In March 1976, the Anglo-Italian Cup was re-introduced as a semi-professional tournament, with six entrants from each country. Wimbledon and Monza reached the final.
Anglo-Italian Cup (semi-professional tournament)
For the next two years Bath City were the English finalists but they lost to Lecco in 1977, and Udinese in 1978.
The tournament was renamed the Alitalia Challenge Cup in 1979, each country had four entrants and Sutton United defeated Italian finalists Chieti 2–1 to become the first and only English winners of the competition during its time as a semi-professional competition. Attempting to defend their title the following year, Sutton United reached the final but were defeated by Triestina.
In 1981 the tournament was renamed the Talbot Challenge Cup with Modena the winners. The following year it was named Gigi Peronace Memorial, after the man who organised the tournament, and reduced to four teams.
The new format consisted of two Anglo-Italian semi-finals, which meant the final was not necessarily contested by an English and an Italian team. That year, Modena successfully defended their title in a final against Sutton United, who were the last English team to reach the final of the semi-professional tournament. For the next four years the finals were all-Italian contests, and after the 1986 instalment the tournament was abolished.
The competition was re-established in 1992–93 as a replacement for the Full Members Cup. It was a professional tournament for teams competing in the second tier of football - the newly renamed First Division in England and Serie B in Italy
Appendices : Competition format and Winners
Appendix A :
Appendix B :
A.C. Fiorentina 1 - 0 West Ham United
The Stadio Communale, Florence (1st leg)
September 3, 1975
West Ham United 0 - 1 A.C. Fiorentina
Upton Park, London (2nd leg)
December 10, 1975
U.S. Cremonese 2 - 0 West Ham United
Stadio Giovanni Zini, Cremona
November 11, 1992
West Ham United 2 - 0 Reggiana
Upton Park, London
November 24, 1992
Cosenza 0 - 1 West Ham United
Stadio San Vito, Cosenza
December 8, 1992
West Ham United 0 - 0 S.C. Pisa
Upton Park, London
December 16, 1992
Italian teams West Ham United
played in Anglo-Italian competitions
Anglo-Italian Cup Winners Cup